Ge in India: say hello to Sukanti

part three – goat farming in the wake of cyclone Phailin

I'm the innocent foundation guardian for Jeevika Trust, and I've been in India working with their local partner JRP. JRP has been working for nearly two years in the village of Berhampur, on the Chilika Lake Lagoon. Their aim is to offer villagers the opportunity to make the most of their natural resources, by farming goats, cultivating crabs, fish, mushrooms, groundnut and fruit trees, whilst preserving the lagoon eco-system.

While I was there I met Sukanti, one of the hundred or so women who have benefitted from the project. Here she is with her son, and a friend: 

Sukanti, on the right with her son

Sukanti earns a living by farming goats. So when Cyclone Phailin hit the Orissa coast in October 2013 and killed eight of her 11 goats, it was a disaster. The Cyclone was the second strongest tropical cyclone ever to hit India. JRP reacted immediately by submitting an emergency appeal to Jeevika Trust, their UK partner, who turned to the innocent foundation for support. The innocent foundation was able to release £10,250. Some of that money made it possible for Sukanti to get five new goats.

It has also meant that Sukanti has been able to look after the goats and feed them. Vets come in regularly to vaccinate the goats and ensure they are in good shape, and she can sell goats after a year, which is a very lucrative business: 1kg of goat meat is sold 400 Rupees (£4). It's a family affair, as her children also help to look after the goats, something they enjoy. 

“The children both go to school," Sukanti told me. "Our first priority is to have them educated so they have a better life. Not a single child in this village will be found not educated.”

She carried on: “I expect my son to be a police officer. I want him to hang all the weapons on his chest.” I found out that this is a reference to popular Hindi films, in which police officers fight against villains. Police officers wear weapons in their coat, on their chest, to protect civilians. 

The last super Cyclone to hit Orissa was in 1999, so we aren’t expecting such strong cyclones to hit Orissa on a regular basis. However, to ensure villagers are able to access more resources to help them cope in the event of any natural disasters, JRP encourages them to insure the goats along with other livestock and agricultural activities. JRP has also planted thousands of coconut and banana trees to protect the island from high winds and exposure to the Bay of Bengal. 

Watch this space for more updates from my trip to India soon.